Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – Has Fast Fashion had it’s day?

fast fashion

Stacey Dooley

Having recently watched Stacey Dooley’s documentary on the impact of fast fashion…. it set me to really thinking about what all these clothes that I love to buy, are doing to the environment. As an example, I had no idea that the Aral Sea had shrunk to 10% of its size in recent years due to the rivers that feed into it being diverted to feed the cotton industry in the surrounding area. As I grimly counted up my jeans… well over 10 pairs and that wasn’t even including the denim cut offs and denim shirts and jackets I found lurking in my cupboards too… my heart sank as I realised the personal impact that my love of clothes has meant to the world around.

If it takes 15,000 litres of water to grow the cotton to make one pair of jeans then I was responsible for the usage of over 150,000 litres of water to fund my jeans habit and that was for only one type of clothing in only one period of my life.. I didn’t even want to do the maths for the cotton dresses, t-shirts, skirts and whatever else I had hanging in my wardrobe. My mind boggles at my water consumption; .in my defence I didn’t know anything about cotton production prior to watching the documentary but maybe I should have thought to find out!

Now that I do know, it is time for action… How to reconcile my love of clothes and fashion with being mindful of the environment? I want a healthy planet for my children and grandchildren to inherit and so must play my part; ignorance is no longer an excuse.

The mantra we are starting to see and hear around this subject is Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and I am keen to apply this to my clothing habit going forward. I diligently recycle household and food items so I should apply the same principles to my wardrobe. Reduce the number of items I buy and operate a strict one in one out policy, reuse by getting items mended, altered or dyed to give them a new lease of life and recycle by giving away all unworn clothing to charity shops, attending and even holding my own swish and selling any items of value on ebay.. a drag but every penny helps!

I love a visit to Primarni or Matalan just as much as the next person but by buying items from these kind of fast fashion retailers I am not voting with my feet. I need to make it clear, by not spending my money at these shops, that I am not happy with the impact their manufacturing practices are having on the environment. Falling revenues are the only language that retailers seem to listen to, so if there is a rise in consumers not frequenting these shops due to a dis-satisfaction with their business practices and thereby sales falling off then maybe these retailers will listen to consumers. This could hopefully lead to them becoming concerned with their suppliers environmental impact and start to insist on more sustainable manufacturing practices. We can live in hope! 

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